Challenge 37: View Humans Correctly, Part 2

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the Golden Rule, based on Matthew 7:12, which most of us, Christians and non-Christians, were taught to practice. Inherent in this verse, based on the context of the surrounding verses, is that you should treat others well like you treat yourself well. Some people, however, don’t have a proper view of themselves so they don’t treat themselves well, and when they relate to others, they apply their own rule that goes something like this: “I’m treating you the same way I treat myself. I’m hard on myself so I’m hard on you.”

Another reason people don’t treat others properly when they don’t view themselves properly is when they have an obvious inflated view of themselves a la Kanye West with his song I Am a God, calling himself Yeezus (a play on the name of our Savior Jesus) and allowing himself to grace the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine with a crown of thorns on his head (Source). Whether you are too hard on or have an inflated view of yourself you have the same problem, a God-complex. This may seem strange, these opposites being about the same issue, but remember our definition from part 1 last week: We “displace (God) when we exchange His standards for ours. See, with a God-complex we create a view of God other than what He presents of Himself in His Word.” So when we decide to hold people to standards beyond God’s standards, in this case the Golden Rule, or openly think we can become God then we have a God-complex. This is the time we live in and we shouldn’t be surprised.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. . .” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, emphasis mine).

When someone does something remarkable we are more likely to hear their feat attributed to the human spirit than to God. People applaud the human spirit as if it is not fueled by another Spirit, the Holy Spirit. God gave everyone a spirit and we must acknowledge Him with whatever greatness we accomplish. Of course this is impossible for those who don’t believe in the Lord, but He is the One who still provides everyone with what is good (Genesis 1; Matthew 5:45). When we take God out of the picture or minimize His role in our lives, we have taken His place and believe we can set our own standards or deserve all the praise for the things we have done. Don’t fall into the trap of making your own rules then demanding that you and others follow those rules or expecting others to consider you a god. Have the correct view of yourself and others and proper expectations will follow.

Take a Risk Challenge: Examine and create a plan to eradicate your harsh standards and/or take yourself off your throne. You will help yourself and others have a healthier view of you and focus on God, which is a radical act of love.

My One Thousand Gifts List

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A great time of sisterhood celebrating Chevelle’s birthday at Rumalees Indian Restaurant
Lots of belly laughs
A heartfelt memorial service that was an homage to a great Christian leader
Eating nacho-flavored chips in the van with Justus and his looking lovingly at me
Hearing Nina Simone sing “I Got Life”
Flynn cleaning the kitchen so I wouldn’t face chaos in the morning with him
Flynn requesting I keep him company at midnight while he put together Nate’s bike
Being unable to go to a house blessing allowed me to cook dinner and have time to spend quality time with the boys
Taking the boys to the drive-in to see Cars 2
A rich Bible study on the Alabaster Woman website

Challenge 36: View Humans Correctly

To me it’s not irony that in one week I counseled three women who felt stuck after some mistakes they made. They didn’t think they could move on, not have the mistakes loom, feel worthy to excel, become better as a result of their mistakes, fully forgive themselves as God had already forgiven them. What is it when we get stuck, think we have to condemn ourselves even when God doesn’t condemn us but declares there is no condemnation for us and forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west (Romans 8:1; Psalm 103:12)? I believe God wants us to know that this is an unrealistic view of perfectionism, the teaching that perfection is possible in human beings. The three women I counseled have this view and they represent a larger group of us who suffer, even occasionally, from perfectionism. We have a God-complex. Of course we would never say that we are God but we essentially displace Him when we exchange His standards for ours.

See with a God-complex we create a view of God other than what He presents of Himself in His Word. When you look in the Bible you see that God is all-loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving (John 3:16-17; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Peter 2:3; Psalm 103:12). Yes, you also see that He is a God of wrath, but for believers in Jesus Christ this wrath is only seen in direct response to our sins when we 1) lie to God knowing that we have already committed to doing the opposite of what we have told God and 2) decide to make a lifestyle of our sins and not seek God in repentance (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 John 1:9). But when we take on a God-complex in spite of what the Bible says about how God responds to our sins, we treat ourselves and others as we believe God should treat us.

We believe we should punish ourselves because God is not doing His job in punishing us. We believe we have fallen short of perfection so we must punish ourselves until we reach that perfection. We, therefore, walk around depressed, self-loathing, complaining and accusing. We stop praying because we believe God doesn’t want to talk to us. We say in our souls, “If I were God, I wouldn’t talk to someone who did that,” regarding whatever sin you perpetually punish yourself or others for. Condemnation—judgment—is reserved for God, and we have no business judging people, which is giving a sentence, especially one the Lord never gives, to another. We must view ourselves correctly, knowing we can and should judge our circumstances and expect God’s response according to His Word and not what we believe His Word should be (Matthew 7:1-2; John 7:24). Viewing humans correctly—never expecting all perfection—is truly a radical act of love toward humans and above all God.

Take a Risk Challenge: This week encourage instead of punish someone you have been holding to your own standards. Remember, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Free yourself and others by walking by God’s Spirit and not your human-led spirit, which is always a radical act of love.

My One Thousand Gifts List

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Justus grabbing me by the hand to lead me to the toilet so he could use it
Attending Candace’s Girl Scouts banquet and seeing little ladies learning to be leading ladies
A laugh with my mama about her mistaking romaine lettuce for collard greens
Being more and more committed to loving my husband more graciously
Justus tapping me vigorously and me turning around and getting a big hug from him
Justus and Nate greeting each other with big smiles and hugs in the morning
Planting flower pots with Joshua and Nate being our watering assistant
Buying and planting flowers after four years of not doing so
Justus falling to sleep in my lap
A wonderful God-centered visitation at Pelham Love’s home-going service

Challenge 35: Love Beyond Your Limit

When your days are long and nights even longer it’s hard to do what you have to do and even what you want to do. That was the case for me this weekend with my son’s lemonade-popcorn stand, a graduation open house, my church service, lunch and a youth service at my sister’s church and a special dinner at a spiritual daughter’s house. Though participating in each stretched my physical limit, they each increased my spiritual blessings. You can’t top spending time with the Word and those who love the Word and you. Each brought me great pleasure and I’m glad I chose to show radical acts of love:
Curt and Rhonda at Joshua's 2013 Stand

Joshua and Lemonade Day Crew

Joshua's stand 2013

Minetta and Rhonda at Joshua 2013 stand

Nichole Kim and Rhonda 2013

Take a Risk Challenge: Despite your feeling you’re at your physical limit, hang with that friend, visit that loved one, attend that party, assist with that move. You will be stretched to be physically present to support another, but your stretching is truly a radical act of love.

My One Thousand Gifts List

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A rain of Catalpa flowers
Tiny worm-like jumping yellow bugs-how God could put life in something so miniscule
Sky-towering trees
Squirrels jumping from limb to limb, trunk to trunk and tree to tree
A perfect weekend
A husband who believes in and supports me to allow me to take a writing trip on Father’s Day weekend
Being at peace
Justus being overjoyed to see me
Still breathing easy from the retreat
A meal lasting for three dinners

Challenge 34: Love In Spite of and Because of

Rebellion tried to rule my home today. My potty-trained 3 year old wet his pants three times, my obstinate 5 year old refused three times to obey my command and my 10 year old essentially called me a liar after insisting that the vacuum cleaner could not have been where I said I got it from because he didn’t see it there. So there was a lot of correcting, redirecting, washing and some spanking in my house. And the boys did a lot of crying and apologizing, and we all did a lot of praying. I needed to be restored, unnerved as a mother, in a place of wanting to give up, abandon my post and run, run, run, to anywhere but there with my kids. In fact they could have all run and I felt I would be perfectly okay if they left me to go anywhere away from me. Feeling justified in my lingering disappointment, frustration and weariness, I walked around giving my boys a half-silent treatment. Then the silence fully broke and I heard “I still show you love when you rebel against me.” And like only God can do, I was made speechless, not withholding words by choice but having no words from conviction. God does and always has shown love to rebels:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8-NIV, emphasis mine).

With my memory restored I stopped my semi-silent treatment and began to engage my boys with joy, joy in my salvation brought on while still deep in my sin and continually grateful that my salvation remains in spite of the times that I sin. And if I get that treatment from the great God of the universe, the omnipotent, all-perfect, all-loving God, surely I can show love to those this God gave to me. My sons are mine to shepherd into godly manhood and that takes peace and patience as I see where they are and what I envision them to be. Loving in spite of what I see and because of what I don’t see truly is a radical act of love.

Take a Risk Challenge: In spite of what you see and because of what you don’t see, love those—children, mentees, colleagues, etc. that you would rather give the silent treatment. You don’t know if your actions and words from a place of peace and patience might usher them right where they need to be.

My One Thousand Gifts List

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Prayer in the garden
A chipmunk scurrying in the garden
Swinging on the deck
Finishing my Breathe essay
Eating Blue Nile
White chocolate chunk cookies
A beautifully warm day
Walking the streets of Ann Arbor
No rain as forecasted
A surprise call from a new friend declaring her connection to me and me as one of her confidantes